What Do I Do?

Answers to Common Landlord Questions

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Do I Have to Allow Pets on My Property?

While you have no obligation to allow pets to live in your rental properties, the trend is definitely moving more in the direction of pet friendly rentals. While you may be worried about damage to your property, allowing pets can actually bring in more tenants and more money. The key is having a comprehensive pet policy, charging a deposit that will cover you if any damage should occur, and charging monthly pet rent that does not have to be used for damages, but can be additional income.

The additional income can come from charging higher rent if there aren’t a lot of pet friendly properties in your area, keep tenants longer because it can be more difficult for pet owners to find pet friendly places to live, and you have a wider tenant pool.

 When Can I Raise My Tenants’ Rent?

Rent can only be raised when a tenant’s current lease period has ended; for month-to-month tenants this is one month in advance. These policies vary depending on the type of rental, so if you are renting on a weekly basis or in a boarding house, there are different notification rules.

There are no rules governing how much a landlord can raise a tenant’s rent, but you aren’t allowed to raise rent punitively or retroactively.

When Do I Keep a Renter’s Security Deposit? How Much Do I Refund if I Think there’s Damage to the Property?

Money can be deducted from a tenant’s security deposit for unpaid rent, unpaid utilities, damage beyond normal wear and tear, or breaches of the lease agreement (actions like early termination of the lease agreement, painting or making changes to the property without permission, etc.). The requirements for deducting money from a tenant’s security deposit vary from state to state with requirements ranging from providing an itemized list with amounts of deductions to doing a walk-through of the property with the tenant before they move out to go over any charges that would result in security deposit deductions.

Even if your state doesn’t require you to walk through the property with the tenant, this can be beneficial so that the tenant is aware of the deductions, knows what to expect when they receive their security deposit refund, and there are fewer surprises.

What is Normal Wear and Tear on a Property?

When it comes to returning a tenant’s security deposit, it is important to know the difference between damage to the property and normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear on a property cannot be deducted from the tenant’s security deposit, but actual property damage can be deducted.

Normal deterioration of a property from living in it is limited to minor damages like small carpet stains or scratches on wood floors, dirty grout, wearing finish on metal fixtures, minor chipping or worn paint, and other similar signs of typically daily life.

Damage to the property includes things like broken windows or mirrors, large stains on the carpet, broken fixtures, holes in walls, and other damages that are caused by abuse or neglect of the property.

Do I Have to Tell Prospective Renters if a Death Occurred in the Rental Unit?

This really comes down to what state you’re renting in. States have different laws when it comes to disclosing what happened in a unit before the tenant moved in. In some states, property owners need to voluntarily disclose if there was a death in the unit before the renter moves in, while in others there is no requirement to disclose this information. You should always check the local laws where you’re renting to find out what needs to be disclosed to potential renters.

When Can I Enter My Rental Units?

Landlords have the keys to every unit that they rent and can enter the properties for maintenance, sales or rental, safety or health concerns, or by court order. It is important to note that tenants are not allowed to change the locks without permission from the landlord, so the landlord should always have the means to enter the unit.

For routine maintenance or any repairs or work requested by the tenant, the landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property.

In the case of emergencies or court orders, landlords can enter at any time without notice to the tenant. Even in these cases, the landlord must announce themselves by name and state the reason for entering before they enter the property.

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